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A Look Inside Danielle Steel’s Writing Process and Why She Still Gets Scared (Exclusive)

Danielle Steel has written 212 books to date, but the bestselling author still feels the nerves before starting a new concept and the thrill of seeing the finished product on the shelves when each publication day arrives.

“It doesn’t get old,” she told PEOPLE, for a story in this week’s print issue. “I’m always grateful. But at first I’m always scared. I never think, ‘Oh, I can do this. No problem.’ I’m always afraid that I won’t do well, or that it won’t be as good as it should be.”

The author says it normally takes about 200 pages before she can really relax, and she strives to make her books “better every time.”

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Her writing process begins with sketches she makes by hand, accompanied by extensive research, much of which she does herself, because that attention to detail gives her books credibility and keeps her readers coming back.

Danielle Steel behind her typewriter in 2023.

Thanks to Alessandro Calderano

Once it’s time to write the manuscript itself, she needs to have her desk (and her head space) ready to dive in.

“To start with, everything has to be perfect. Then I can make a mess, but my desk needs to be cleared. I need to get all my work done. I just need to feel peaceful and ready,” she says.

Every draft starts on her Olympia typewriter because she prefers the weight of the manual keys – and she prefers to avoid the risk of accidentally deleting everything on a computer. When she’s writing, which is most of the time, she can spend 20 hours at that desk, or as long as 24 hours if she’s really in the zone.

“When it’s flowing, I hate to stop and go to bed because it’s a bit like skiing in the morning,” Steel explains. ‘It’s all white snow. And then you figure out which path you’re going to take, and you go to sleep, and the snow disappears. So I tend to sit there for many, many hours.”

Dedicated bookworms may know the feeling of sitting still for too long because the book is too good to put down. Steel also experiences this during her writing process.

Danielle Steel’s latest release, ‘Resurrection’.

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“When I’m really into the book, after about the first five days my back hurts. My arms hurt,” she explains. ‘Everything hurts. And after a while you don’t even notice the pain anymore. You become so completely absorbed in the book.’

Once the first version is ready, which can take ‘weeks and weeks’, she makes corrections manually. Steel usually does this while sitting on one of her couches, often with one of her chihuahuas on her lap. “The first draft is pretty much what comes out of the typewriter,” she adds. “And then I spend a year correcting, changing and polishing it.”

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But first she makes sure she enjoys the moment.

“It’s an amazing feeling when you write that last sentence on the last page,” says Steel. “There’s a total mess in my office. I clean up the mess. I relax, I take a hot bath. I’m completely happy with myself. It’s really cool.”

Steel’s latest book, Resurrectioncomes out on June 25. It is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold.

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